Cluj captain Mario Camora on Celtic tie

By David Walton

August 5, 2019

CFR Cluj vs Celtic remains the most intriguing tie of the third qualifying round, and today, the Romanians’ captain has opened up on it.

His name is Mario Camora, and he’s been with the Romanian champions for the last eight years. He’s four appearances shy of the 300 mark, and plays primarily at left-back.

He’s one of many players that large sections of the Celtic support won’t have heard of. However, we can’t afford to underestimate our European foes either. It’s clear they’ve been doing their research on us, and will feel prepared ahead of the contest.

Mario Camora has plenty of big-game experience (Tom Purslow/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Camora has been speaking to Sport Total FM, and has given a brief analysis on how he feels Celtic play. The Cluj captain also stated his side can shock the Hoops over the course of two legs.

“We all want each other to get into the Champions League. It’s hard, but not impossible. Together, we can eliminate Celtic. They are the favourites, but we can surprise.

“We’re closer to the groups, but nothing has been decided yet. We have to be grounded, we have four finals to win, no matter what competition’s groups we end up in. We all want to hear the (Champions League) anthem in Gruia.

“Celtic play hard and aggressively. We need to do what we can to win. We need to be 100% aggressive and prepared mentally and physically. You run more in the Champions League than in the Championship games because the ball is more with the opponents.”

Cluj vs Celtic will be a step-up – same space won’t be allowed

One of the notable aspects of the opening two ties was how much space we were given. Sarajevo and Nomme Kalju were both guilty of allowing the likes of Mikey Johnston and Ryan Christie to get into space between 25 and 30 yards.

By the sounds of things, this is something Cluj will be keen not to let happen. If they’re coming in with an aggressive approach, Celtic have to play the tie cleverly. Gaps will be there to exploit, but it’ll take cool heads if Cluj start pressing with energy.

Cluj will pose a substantial threat on Wednesday night (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images)

It certainly appears as though the view from Romania is that Celtic are clear favourites heading into this tie. Camora has already stated that a win for his side would be a “surprise”. Meanwhile, arguably Romania’s greatest ever footballer, Gica Hagi, stated that a Cluj success would be a “miracle” (ProSport).

Interesting vocabulary from both men. It’s clear that many in Romania only see this tie going one way. But, even so, it’s down to Celtic to make it count and show why Cluj should be wary.

Neil Lennon will be used to the favourites tag (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Celtic’s 7-0 rout of St Johnstone could prove the perfect prep for Wednesday night’s contest. The level of pace the Hoops played at against Saints must be replicated in Romania.

With a bit of luck, we’re the ones who come back to Parkhead next week with a huge performance in the bag.